The E46 M3, the Z3 M Coupe/Roadster and the E85/86 MZ4 Coupe/Roadster all came equipped with the s54b32 engine (commonly referred to as the S54) which was a much more complex engine than the earlier US Spec M3 had. The vanos unit on the S54 also evolved into a more complex unit and has it's own set of inherent problems that many S54 owners will run into eventually. The S54 Vanos controls both the intake and exhaust camshafts to improve performance, torque, idle characteristics and emissions. A high pressure (1200psi) control system is used to ensure responsive and accurate camshaft adjustments required by the high performance M engine. The added complexity and high oil pressure used on the S54 vanos means there are more opportunities for failures and related problems.

Click on the slides below for more specific information....

The S54 exhaust cam hub is a very common failure point and should be checked every 60k miles. The 2 tabs on the hub are prone to breaking off, causing vanos faults and misfires (best case) to engine failure if the one of the tabs falls into the timing chain. In some cases only one tab will fail, which can go unnoticed for a long period of time until the 2nd tab fails, so it's important to visually check the tabs every couple of years. We offer both a brand new factory replacement "Cryo" hub that has been cryogenically treated to improve strength by 30% over stock, or a machined and modified refurbished "D300" hub. Both hubs are equally strong and we have had ZERO reported failures with either hub.
The vanos also uses 4 solenoids which are attached to the bottom of the unit in a non-rebuildable aluminum case. These solenoids are very sensitive to oil pressure and can easily become clogged or damaged over time due to contaminates in the oil. Generally this will cause a fault code relating to the vanos and either intake or exhaust timing problems. We highly recommend changing the oil every 3500 miles and only using the BMW 10w60 High Performance oil to prolong the life of the vanos. For the most reliable results we always recommend using NEW factory solenoids over refurbished solenoids. New solenoids will easily last 80-100K miles when the oil is changed regularly.
Typically the S54 vanos does not exhibit the common diesel rattle noise under normal operation. If you notice that your engine has suddenly become noisy we recommend that the car not be driven any more than necessary until the source of the noise can be determined by removing the valve cover to check all 12 mounting bolts holding each cam gear to the camshaft. These bolts are known to loosen up over time and if left unchecked can fail without warning. In some cases this can cause valve-to-piston interference severely damaging the engine.
The S54 vanos uses a high pressure oil pump located on the back of the vanos unit. This pump, along with the drive hub on the exhaust cam is a potential failure point that may cause extensive damage in a worst-case scenario. Mounted to the front of the exhaust camshaft is a drive hub that spins the oil pump on the back of the vanos unit. The tabs on this hub are known to fail without warning, causing the oil pump on the vanos to stop spinning. Without the high oil pressure needed to drive the cam timing, the engine will misfire at idle and have poor performance. It's common to see several mis-fire codes stored in the DME when this happens. Additionally, the tab failure on the exhaust hub will typically cause excessive wear to the oil pump holes as they bang back and forth, creating excessive play. Our rebuilt S54 vanos units have a modified oil pump to address this potential failure point, and when combined with our cryogenically treated exhaust hub will virtually eliminate the chances of hub tab failures.
To help reduce valve train noise caused by the loose bearings in the splined gears, we offer a set of rebuilt gears with a slight preload on the internal bearings. The gears are offered individually or as a pair, and are sold on a core exchange basis.
Many of our parts are sold on a core exchange basis and require a refundable security deposit for your old parts. This deposit ensures that we receive a good working vanos (or other related part) which can be easily rebuilt and sold to another customer. Once the core is received we will refund the deposit to you within 1-2 business days providing the parts are not broken or damaged in a way other than normal wear and tear. A good rule of thumb is if the parts you are sending back are in more pieces than what we originally sent to you, then they are probably not rebuildable.

Cryogenic treatment is the process of treating work pieces to cryogenic temperatures below −190 °C using liquid nitrogen in order to remove residual stresses and improve wear resistance on steels. Some of the benefits of cryogenic treatment include longer part life and less failure due to cracking.

Our S54 vanos comes fully rebuilt with brand new factory solenoids and solenoid valves. Keep in mind that these new solenoids are $925 from BMW. The rebuilt vanos also includes our CNC modified oil pump disc (shown below) which will work with either the Cryo hub or the D300 hub listed below. We also replace ALL piston seals with ultra-high quality lifetime seals for maximum performance and durability.

Our rebuilt vanos includes the following -
  • Fully rebuilt housing with upgraded pistons seals and O-rings
  • Modified oil pump disc
  • Brand new BMW solenoids and valves
  • Mounting gasket
  • Viton O-rings for oil pressure return valve
For the ultimate setup, use either our "Cryo" or "D300" exhaust hub below (sold separately) to prevent potential hub failures. E46 M3

Complete Vanos with NEW solenoids - $1795

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The S54 Vanos price includes a fully refundable $400 core deposit for your old vanos. You can return your old vanos to us using the supplied UPS return label in the box and we will refund your $400 core deposit to you within 1-2 business days for a net price of $1395.

*Please read the S54 Vanos Guide for more detailed information and core return info.

Parts and Accessories...

For those wanting a stronger, factory OEM hub we offer a cryogenically treated option to improve durability and eliminate tab failures. Our 'Cryo' hubs have been road and track tested with zero reported failures and are an excellent upgrade over the stock hub. A broken tab can cause serious engine damage if the tab falls into the timing chain, so don't wait for yours to break!

S54 Cryo Exhaust Hub

Price: $950 - In Stock

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The Cryo Hub price includes a fully refundable $50 core deposit for your old hub (broken or not). You can return your old hub to us using the supplied UPS return label in the box and we will refund your $50 core deposit to you within 1-2 business days for a net price of $1000.

Cryogenic treatment is the process of treating work pieces to cryogenic temperatures below −190 °C using liquid nitrogen in order to remove residual stresses and improve wear resistance on steels. Some of the benefits of cryogenic treatment include longer part life and less failure due to cracking.

As an alternative to the Cryo hub listed above, the D300 hub is a stock BMW hub that has been machined and modified with heavy-duty oil pump tabs for maximum durability. The oversized tabs are designed to work with the original oil pump disc, so drilling smaller holes in the disc is not required. The D300 will also work with our rebuilt vanos without any other modifications.

S54 D300 Exhaust Hub

Price: $850 - Available Feb 1

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The D300 hub price includes a fully refundable $50 core deposit for your old hub (broken or not). You can return your old hub to us using the supplied UPS return label in the box and we will refund your $50 core deposit to you within 1-2 business days for a net price of $900.

Send us your oil pump disc and we will CNC drill new holes which are slightly smaller than the stock holes (9.75mm), eliminating as much play as possible. This will help reduce the chances of hub tab failures when used with your stock hub, or combine it with our Cryo hub above for unmatched durability.

We can also drill the hub with new stock sized holes if using the D300 hub instead. S54 Disc

Send us your oil pump disc - Price: $150

Send us your oil pump disc and we can redrill new holes at 9.75mm (smallest possible size) and send it back out the same day in most cases, or by the following business day. You will need to completely disassemble the pump, keep ALL the small parts, and just send the bare disc itself. We recommend either UPS or USPS Priority/Express for shipping so you can track the shipment, and be sure to include your contact information inside the box. Once the disc arrives we will contact you for payment (Paypal or Credit Cards accepted) and desired return shipping options. The shipping address can be found on the Contact Us page. Sorry, we do not sell the oil pump disc on a core exchange basis as they are far too valuable

A complete set of inner and outer bolts for the cams gears. The stock cam bolts can loosen over time and should be checked or replaced while you're in there. Highly recommended when replacing the exhaust hub. Includes Loctite® 263 capsule.

(Note tightening torque of 12Nm or 9 ft-lb) S54 Cam Bolts

Price: $30

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It's a good idea to check your upper chain guide rail (next to the chain tensioner) when removing the vanos as it makes it much easier to replace once the vanos is out of the way. These small chain guides are known to wear over time and can cause some chain noise (sometimes confused for vanos rattle) at low RPM, and if left unchecked it can eventually crack or break potentially causing engine damage. Kit includes replacement crush washer.

S54 Upper Chain Guide

Price: $39

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The German Auto Solutions 1.2 bar Cooling System Cap uses 100% original BMW internal components that have been recalibrated to vent at 1.2 bar vs. the factory 2.0 bar setting. Most modern cooling systems are calibrated at 1.0 - 1.2 bar to reduce stress on the plastic components, increasing the lifespan of the fragile plastic parts without affecting the performance of the cooling system. The top of the cap is CNC machined from 6061 aluminum, hard anodized black to prevent corrosion, and then laser etched so it looks cool.

1.2 bar Coolant Cap

Price: $39

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This flexible high performance steel braided oil line replaces the stock hard line to prevent failures from stress cracks. Kit includes mounting tabs for a clean installation, a heat shield to protect the line from the exhaust headers, and new crush washers for the banjo bolts. A great upgrade for any M3 and highly recommended for track/race car applications.

S54 Oil Line

Price: $60

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The cam alignment tool is recommended when replacing the vanos, and a necessity when replacing the cam gear bolts or exhaust hub to ensure the timing is perfect. The tool can be purchased for $175, or return it when you're done for a $140 refund.

S54 Cam Tool Kit

Price: $175 (includes $140 deposit)

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Our S54 cam gear replacement sprockets are specially treated with REM anti-friction coating for lower friction and less noise. A nice upgrade over the stock sprockets.

S54 REM Gears

Price: $50 Pair

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The S54 Noise Reduction Kit is designed to reduce excessive valve train noise commonly found on the S54 engine. The kit includes:

  • 1 new exhaust modified splined gear (with anti-rattle modification)
  • 2 new REM polished cam sprockets
  • 2 new spring plate sets
S54 Noise Reduction Kit

Price: $225

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The S54 modified intake gear is rebuilt with anti-rattle bearings to control excessive valve train noise. We also offer a stronger version with an over-sized spindle for track applications (intake side only). The gear is sold with a $100 refundable core deposit.

We offer 2 versions
  • Standard spindle - $200
  • Oversize (Racing) spindle - $300
S54 Modified Intake Gear

Price includes $100 refundable core deposit

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Need a replacement vanos piston? You can't buy these from BMW but we sell both intake or exhaust side pistons a la cart. You're welcome :)

S54 Vanos Pistons

Price: $25 each

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Chain guide replacement kit includes...

  • IWIS primary timing chain
  • BMW primary guide
  • BMW right-upper guide
  • BMW right-lower guide
  • BMW secondary timing chain

S54 Chain Guide Kit

Price: $299

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Refurbished S54 solenoid packs, good for testing or temporarily clearing up certain fault codes. We hand pick the best solenoids and thoroughly clean and test them give them to get a few more miles out of them. Note that refurbished solenoids are a short-term solution to help troubleshoot problems or pass inspection and generally it's best to use brand new solenoids when a permanent solution is desired. We offer our refurbished solenoids with a 60 free replacement warranty or an optional 1 year free replacement warranty.

Refubished Solenoids

  • 60 day warranty - $150
  • 1 year warranty - $200

We also offer factory new solenoid packs as well.

  • Factory New Solenoid Pack $899
S54 Refurbished Solenoid
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Sorry, we cannot allow returns on new or refurbished solenoid packs

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